The Dutch telecommunication operator KPN has recently announced that it will charge users to use services such as Skype and Whatsapp(1). The reason given is that KPN’s business model of charging for voice calls and SMS text messages cannot compete with the free alternatives. KPN’s blocking of competitive online services to their consumers is part of a trend of European telecommunication operators such as Telefonica, T-mobile Orange and Vodafone, which already block the use of services such as Skype via their networks. Furthermore, KPN uses deep packet inspection (DPI) technology from the French company Alcatel-Lucent to monitor the use of applications over its network(2). The choice of KPN to charge for the use of certain Internet applications is in stark contrast with the principles of net neutrality, which were recently outlined by the Commission in COM(2011)0222 of 19 April 2011. National or European regulators may be unable to protect net neutrality for consumers, because telecommunication operators may not always have significant market power in the mobile data market. Furthermore, not all consumers are likely to switch to another operator because of this limitation to their Internet experience, even if the operators are transparent about their blocking practices.
1. Does the Commission agree that KPN is violating the principle of net neutrality by charging for access to certain Internet services? If not, why not?
2. Does the Commission agree that insufficient provisions are in place to uphold the principles of net neutrality for all Internet users? If not, why not?
3. What will the Commission do to stop the trend of telecommunication operators blocking competitive services for their customers?
4. Is the Commission considering regulating net neutrality ex ante, as suggested in the conclusion of COM(2011)0222?
5. Does the Commission agree that using DPI technology is a violation of several fundamental human rights, applicable European data protection and privacy rules, notably Directive 95/46/EC and possibly Article 3 of the internationally recognised Convention on Cybercrime?